Fyre Lake water tower to be assessed

Cathy Decker

The three-member Mercer County Board of Review agreed to lower the initial value of an overhead water tower in Fyre Lake, after hearing testimony Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011 from Richland Grove township assessor Laurie Epperly and two members of the Fyre Lake Water Company (FLWC). The board of review heard about an hour's worth of testimony from both sides before making its decision.

The township assessor had put a value on the 100,000-gallon overhead water tower at around $874,000, making its one-third taxable value at $291,466 for the water company. In January FLWC filed an appeal with the Mercer County Supervisor of Assessments on the taxable amount.

The water company disputed being assessed property taxes on its community water processing operation at all, because of its non-profit status, because the building and land where the water processing sits is on "common ground" of Fyre Lake and because the water being provided is only for potable water to Fyre Lake residents and for the village of Sherrard.

The assessor argued that the water tower is not located in an incorporated area or municipality, that since each household is billed a fee for water services, FLWC can not be considered non-profit and that even if Sherrard is able to receive water from the tower, it is not currently receiving water.

The Fyre Lake water tower was assessed for the initial value based on a contracted assessor's estimation, who used building costs, building permit values and published cost tables to assess the water tower's value, according to Epperly.

Rick Rogan, president of FLWC, told the board of review that the water company was required to erect an overhead water tower by the Illinois Environmental Protection agency. "The actual cost of the storage tower is $425,000," he said. That figure came from the storage tank manufacturer. He added that a lot of the costs that were used for the building permit reflected costs of demolition and repiping. "It was all part of the money we borrowed from from the Illinois EPA low interest revolving loan fund," he added. "The McGuire Iron Company's value of the tower with construction was $481,000," said Rogan.

The board decided on reducing the water tower value from $874,000 to $481,000, with taxable amount of $160,416, after hearing testimony on the actual cost of construction. If this cost is shared among the 272 households within the Fyre Lake community, it will amount to an additional cost of about $45 per household.